Today we celebrate the first weekday of the first week of Ordinary Time, and both readings mark beginnings as well, the beginning of the story of the prophet Samuel and the beginning of Jesus' ministry.
If you have not read the story of Samuel, the story is worth following for the next few weeks. Today we begin with his mother and see, that as God as often done, God has chosen someone who feels like an outcast and somehow punished by God. Her name means "beauty" or "passion" and she is loveed by God but wants a son.
Today we see her at the point in the story where she cannot see what she has, she cannot see how much her husband loves her, all she can see is what she does not have and therefore has a miserable life.
How often can we be like Hannah? We see what we don't have. We don't hear the good things people say, or we dismiss the compliments, but the negative remarks, like those of Peninnah, stick and we focus only on them. She names the son Samuel meaning "God has heard" but in reality had it not always been a part of God's larger plan to send Samuel the prophet. We pray prayers of petition not to change God's mind, or because God needs our prayer, but because we need to recognize our own constant need for God.